They will shine

Beautiful on the outside, but nothing hidden shines through. A sculpture at the Musée D'Orsay, Paris, August 2005

Beautiful on the outside, but nothing hidden shines through.
A sculpture at the Musée D’Orsay, Paris, August 2005

“If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”Roald Dahl

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment…Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit…”I Peter 3:3-4

One year ago today, I quoted from another aviator who, like Roald Dahl, is best known to millions as a writer.  The quote from Saint-Exupery is one of my all-time favorites, about the beauty of what lies hidden.

We’ve all known people whose outward appearance was not attractive in any conventional sense, but who radiate a powerfully appealing presence that draws us to them.  When we come face-to-face with someone whose wonderful character shines through a seemingly flawed exterior, it up-ends our shallower notions about what matters most in a person.

The idea of inner beauty has unfortunately become a sort of cliché, the kind of thing that we talk about but don’t really believe (hence the millions of dollars spent each year on cosmetics, elective surgery and other efforts to create physical perfection).  I think the endless media onslaught of air-brushed, largely mythical images of “perfect” people has desensitized us to the point that we have nearly forgotten how to really see each other.

Each person you meet is a deep well of unseen thoughts, memories, ideas and dreams.  With very few exceptions, there is much that is beautiful inside, although it may be hidden at first glance.  As we strive to shine forth in a way that goes beyond superficial adornment, let’s also be on the lookout for that hidden beauty inside each person we see today.  Sometimes, believing is seeing.

One year ago today:

Somewhere it hides

23 Comments

  1. “Don’t be fooled by my beauty—the light of my face comes from the candle of my spirit.”
    – Rumi.

    • Lovely quote. Thank you for sharing it!

  2. Ann

    Just a quick note to say how much I appreciate you and your blog. The pictures, quotes, links to other sites and commentary are a treat each day. I’m learning a lot!

    • Thank you Ann, I learn a lot from the comments of readers as well. That’s one thing that I find more appealing about written communication as opposed to spoken. I don’t know about others, but I find I “listen” better when I am reading (even when it’s an audiobook) and tend to retain more from reading than from spoken conversation, where there are often many distractions and interruptions that prevent me from hearing everything clearly.

  3. Jenelle

    I am memorizing Dahl’s quote. It’s crazy inspiring!

    Illness has once again invaded our house, and I’m playing catch up here. This blog always cheers my spirits and I appreciate your commitment to the time it takes to keep it up, Julia. It’s a wonderful, encouraging place that always brings a smile to my face 🙂 Thank you for all you do here!

    • Jenelle, you just made my day 🙂 – GET WELL SOON to all of you and thanks for being here!

  4. Carolyn Miller

    I know that I’ll not see you today , but you hidden beauty will shine. You all have a great weekend. Our two grandkids, from North Carolina , will be coming in on Sunday to spend a week with us. Paul is in Yuma and Jennifer can’t come. I am getting rested up for the week. Take care and hugs to all.

    • Carolyn, what fun! I hope someday Grady can come spend the week with us. Having him for a day recently was fabulous (see an upcoming post for more about that) – I was able to “babysit” from our hotel room in Atlanta while Jeff was at a conference and Megan was at work nearby. I loved it! Thanks for your kind words and have a GREAT time with those precious kids.

  5. Sheila

    Oh my, Julia! You were up really early this morning. I hope all is well. I had an early medical appointment, too. The worst part of that was having my pupils dilated and the sunlight is so bright. 🙂 The report was good, and I just picked out new glasses. I am very blessed. A saying that came to mind as I read your blog today is: “Pretty IS as pretty DOES!”. I’m not sure if that is southern but I’ve said it so many times. 🙂 I’ll continue to pray for what lies ahead for your family. Y’all mean so much to so many!

    • Thank you, Sheila! My sleep has deteriorated lately, as it always does when Matt is facing open heart surgery on the near horizon. I got a big kick out of him asking me if he could bring his Marvel Heroes thermal mug on our trip to York today. Jeff and I usually have travel mugs but until now, he has never wanted one :-). I filled it for him when we stopped for gas, and told him he now has one to take in the car anytime he wants.

      My grandmother (Mama’s mother) used to tell us to “be pretty” and we always understood it to mean behavior. I still remember her admonition to this day.

      I’m glad your eye appointment went well. I just got new glasses too! Jeff got fed up with seeing me in ones that were super-glued together but they were such good lenses that I was reluctant to part with them. But my new ones seem equally good. Not all are, though, as I’ve learned from experience, hence my reluctance to part with the I loved.

      Thanks so much for your prayers and friendship! I hope you have a great weekend.

  6. raynard

    Julia I remember a joke a friend of mine use to say. Beauty’s only skin deep and ugly is to the bone”.. No I was going to start sing”The Temptations either I digress.. You just reminded me it’s time for me to get another eye exam and( maybe another pair of bifocals. Going to simple the cake i was going to bake. it’s now going to be a spice cake with vanilla frosting( spring colored sprinkles on top( maybe a easter bunny on top..

    • Spice cake with vanilla sounds good to me! I vote for the bunny on top, if it’s chocolate. 🙂 I tried to find a digital pic of the Easter basket cake my Mother made over 40 years ago, so I could share it with you, but no luck. However, it looked a lot like some of these – check them out – there is at least one with a chocolate Easter bunny on top!

  7. Well said, Julia. We’ve gone way to far in the extreme. I think its very sad.

    • I agree. I love people who have individual style, versus trying to copy what everyone else is doing, because we have been brainwashed to think only a narrow range of looks is “fashionable.” We need to stop trying to look so much like what the media tell us we are supposed to look like. Beyond the basic standards of cleanliness, grooming and modesty, there is a wide range of styles that can be beautiful or at least attractive. Vintage, retro, casual, dressy, plain, flashy, all have their place. (Outfits made of raw meat, however, are NOT what I had in mind.) 🙂

      • The media is a powerful force. It’s difficult to override the onslaught, especially for young people. We need a revolt.

        • Alys, I hope that the online world represents a sort of peaceful revolt against centralized media control, which is largely dictated by the highest bidder. The internet has enabled people to publish, connect and organize on their own, a very exciting development that may yet break the stranglehold on pop culture that has seemingly always been in the hands of a few powerful interests. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. I think so-called “reality TV” (which I believe must still be quite scripted and certainly synthesized) is TV’s answer to the compelling fascination most of us have with REAL people, which accounts for the popularity of social media and blogging. I don’t think TV will ever be able to compete with that.

          • That’s an excellent point, Julia. And I agree that much of ‘reality’ TV isn’t reality at all. The internet has opened up the world to us all and definitely for the better. That’s why some of the more controlling governments in other countries often block access to Twitter and Facebook. They’re afraid to take the lid off the can of worms.

            • Dictators fear digital access for good reason – it’s hard to control people who choose freedom from the inside out. TRUTH LIVES! 🙂

  8. Sheila

    Well, it goes without saying who my favorite Marvel Hero is! (Clue: Starts with M).. I’m so glad that Matt is enjoying the thermal mug, now his official travel mug. Thank you for sharing that. 🙂

    • Sheila, he also bought himself a Marvel Heroes jigsaw puzzle yesterday. 😀

  9. Really great message here today from you and your readers. I also think the Rumi quote is so beautiful too. It’s hard to imagine being so infatuated by ones looks that you’d be willing to compromise on other qualities. Before I met Jim, I dated a very nice fellow, he was absolutely cute as could be, one might say, “gorgeous”. BUT, he was very quiet and after a year and a half of struggling through times alone, where I had to carry the conversation for the most part, we parted. I’m sure some of it was immaturity, but some people are just not great conversationalist. My friends thought me nuts, because he was so sweet and cute. But you have to be able to communicate especially in marriage. He married a really nice girl and they had a couple of beautiful children. I ran into his brother not too long ago and he said that C was a really grumpy/angry person. I was in shock. I couldn’t even comprehend how that could be. I wondered if, the communication problems have plagued him his whole life. Not sure. But there’s far more important things than looks. Brains, communication skills, humour and having similar goals goes much farther in my experience.

    • Yes, I agree. I must say that nearly 58 years of watching other people’s lives have convinced me that great physical beauty is often a disadvantage, especially when it starts young and continues that way. Some of the gorgeous people I have known seemingly relied upon their looks to open doors for them, and never really learned how to be a faithful friend or fun companion. Some never even learned basic responsibility. Some dreamed of being celebrities or beauty queens, and some had problems with sustained romantic relationships. On the other hand, friends who were attractive (but not dazzling), or even plain, went on to live very successful and happy lives, and their beauty radiates from within, drawing others to them in a way that lasts.

      And then, of course, there are those haunting cases of people who do make it as celebrities, people with talent and looks galore, who still feel insecure and imperfect. When I look back at the cover of my old “Thriller” LP by Michael Jackson, it makes me so sad to see (and hear) what a good-looking and talented man he was, yet he seemed unable to see his own beauty for what it was. Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book David and Goliath is based on our tendency to confuse advantages with disadvantages…outward beauty is not always the gift it appears to be, apparently.

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